I’d also now like to talk about the calls for a ceasefire. A ceasefire needs arrangements from all sides of conflict. There is no point whatsoever in calling for a ceasefire when one side is intent upon wiping out the other. Hamas is calling for the destruction of Israel. While the river-to-the-sea calls are being made, a ceasefire cannot take place. Despite this, the Israeli defence force has been pausing hostilities to allow people to escape Gaza and to allow aid in. These pauses are helpful to those innocents caught in the crossfire.
Senator LAMBIE (Tasmania) (20:56): I would like to ask every Australian how they would feel if their children were afraid to go to school. How would they feel if their children were wearing raincoats on a hot day because they didn’t want to be identified by their school uniform? How would they feel if their teenagers were attacked in the street because they looked a certain way? This is what has been happening to Jewish kids in Australia since the Hamas terrorist attack on 7 October. On Friday night in Melbourne a rally in support of Palestine was held in Caulfield, in the heart of Melbourne’s Jewish community. This rally was held across the road from a synagogue during Shabbat. On Saturday, during observations of Remembrance Day ceremonies, similar pro-Palestinian protests were taking place through Sydney. Every Australian has a right to protest peacefully, but holding rallies that raise the temperature and spread hate is just so unacceptable, and it is so damn right un-Australian. We are a multicultural country, and it is one of our greatest strengths and something that every Australian should be proud of, but there is a much deeper thing that is happening here. I want to call it out today, and it’s called racism.
Two weeks ago, of all things, Hitler posters started to pop up around Sydney’s eastern suburbs. Swastikas appeared on walls near synagogues. There were attacks on Jewish schools, businesses and people, and they are not just happening here. They are happening all over the world. I had the opportunity to speak to a Jewish mother on Friday who had to explain to her six-year-old why there was a police van parked at the front of her school in this country. And by the way, this school already has security. How sad is that in this country? Other Jewish schools around Australia have the same thing, once again in this country. How shameful. Why do so many Australian schools, synagogues and museums need to have 24-hour security? I will tell you why: it’s called antisemitism, and antisemitism has a long and horrid history that goes back thousands of years. It is the reason that Jews have been persecuted across the centuries. It’s the reason that Jewish people fought so hard for a Jewish state.
It’s also the reason why the brutal slaughter of 7 October hit Jewish people so hard, whole families being murdered in cold blood just because they are Jewish. It is a heartbreaking story, no matter who you are or where you come from. There will probably be activist that will accuse me of not caring about the deaths of innocent Palestinians. Of course, I care about that, like many other Australians. I have said it before in this place and I will say it again: Hamas does not represent or care about Palestinians. In my speech after the 7 October attacks I made it very, very clear that innocent Palestinians should also be protected. And let’s be really, really clear about this: Hamas are nothing less than criminals and cowards and murderers. They are terrorists. And they not only say that they want to destroy Israel but that they want to kill all Jews. They are terrorists, and these attacks seem to be giving anti-Semitic people an excuse to attack and intimidate our Australian Jewish community. Since my speech after the attacks, I can assure you that Jewish Australians have been reaching out to me and my office sharing their family’s stories, and some of these stories are harrowing.
I will share one with you tonight about a lovely 97-year-old Jewish grandmother who survived the horrors of a concentration camp as a young girl. She was in palliative care, and her memory was going. The nurses raised the bars around her bed. The second night they did this, this woman was found by the nurse standing at the end of her bed, ramrod straight, her arms down by her sides, repeating over and over again: ‘I can work. I can work.’ These are the lived experiences of many Jewish Australians, and for generations they have lived this. The trauma of their ancestors’ lives is in their DNA.
There are Jewish and Muslim families out there that have been in Australia for well over 100 years, and often these families come here to escape persecution, to make a new life, to start a better life. They may not be in Gaza or Israel right now, but they understand what happens when good people don’t stand up and speak out. It is true: good people are standing up in Australia right now. Good people are peacefully speaking about the horrible situation in Gaza. Good people are calling on language here to be calm, not to contribute to hate and to avoid raising the temperature. The people inciting hate in Caulfield, in Coogee and in other places are not heeding this call. But you must. Your community leaders must take control and seek to cool this situation down. That is your responsibility. That is why you are a leader. Start showing it. I call on those leaders to speak to their communities and discourage any action towards hatred. It is not the Australian way.
I’d also now like to talk about the calls for a ceasefire. A ceasefire needs arrangements from all sides of conflict. There is no point whatsoever in calling for a ceasefire when one side is intent upon wiping out the other. Hamas is calling for the destruction of Israel. While the river-to-the-sea calls are being made, a ceasefire cannot take place. Despite this, the Israeli defence force has been pausing hostilities to allow people to escape Gaza and to allow aid in. These pauses are helpful to those innocents caught in the crossfire. We are in a war. And, unfortunately, the innocents always pay the price. So, to you armchair critics calling for political solutions to an active conflict, I suggest you start paying a little bit more attention to the actions of Hamas. They are terrorists, and you cannot negotiate with terrorists.
We do not have the picture in front of us that the Israel defence force has in front of it, especially how and where Hamas are using innocent civilians as human shields, launching rockets from schools, mosques and hospitals, and storing weapons inside critical civilian facilities. They should pay attention to what Hamas’s actions mean in international law, especially article 19 of the fourth Geneva convention.
While they’re at it, they should have a look at what is taking place in Pakistan. Right now, Pakistan is arresting and deporting more than one million Afghan refugees. Afghans who fled the war and headed to Pakistan for safe harbour have been told they are no longer welcome there. They are being forced to leave while their homes are being bulldozed in front of them. Afghan women and children are being forced back into the arms of the Taliban terrorists, back to the men of the Taliban who don’t allow Afghan girls to go to school and don’t allow women to work, back to the Taliban terrorists who kidnap Afghan girls, raping them and forcing them into marriage, back to the Taliban terrorists who beheaded journalists and Western soldiers and then put it on the internet for all of us to see.
The same thing is happening in Lebanon to Syrian refugees. Syrian refugees have been terrorised and murdered by ISIS. Human Rights Watch has reported that deportations of Syrian refugees from Lebanon this year have been the most severe yet.
Police raids, arrests and deportations of people seeking refuge from war: where are the armchair critics on that? Where are you? You’ve gone silent. You are not calling out these terrorist groups. You are not calling out Hamas, the Taliban and ISIS. You’re always saying, ‘They’re terrorists; they’re murderers.’ Why aren’t these actions being called out, like those against Israel defending itself? The Israel Defense Forces are one of the most scrutinised militaries in the world, and I am confident that, if the Israel Defense Forces do anything wrong, they will be held to account; there is no doubt about that.
Israel has said it will not consider a ceasefire until all the hostages from 7 October have been released. In the meantime I, like many other Australians, in peace, support Israel’s humanitarian pauses. I understand why they simply cannot have a ceasefire to appease the calls of the armchair critics here in Australia and in other places.
I want you armchair critics in Australia to know this: you are part of the problem. You are part of the problem that is going on out in our streets. Have a good think about that and have a good look at yourselves in the mirror tonight, because, seriously, I’ve had a gutful of you. And there are way too many of you critics out there. You know what? If you’ve got so much to say, I say this to you: we are absolutely screaming for people to join our defence forces. Feel free to go and sign up and do something useful with your life, once and for all.